Conference me in

Conference presentation

One of the two courses that I’m required to take in my first quarter as a PhD student at the SOJC is entitled Teaching & Professional Life (interestingly enough, it’s being taught by my advisor, Kim Sheehan). The intent of the course is to help us see that, in addition to being a good teacher, a professor is expected to always have something in the “publication pipeline.”

I’m mildly shamed to admit that, save for my Master’s thesis (which I finished in 2008), I’ve not really had much of anything else published–and I’m certainly not counting the “humor” columns that I wrote for my college newspaper. So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that part of the expectation included with being a PhD student is that you are supposed to publish papers, either in journals or at conferences.

There’s just one problem: Since I’ve never done that (writing a thesis is a pretty cut-and-dry, prescribed sort of procedure), I had no idea where to start.

I did get an email from a professor in our school about the Apps and Affect conference in London, Ontario, Canada, being held next October; its focus is on mobile technology and apps, which just so happens to be one of my primary areas of research interest.

I mentioned to Kim that I wanted to write a paper for the conference; she expressed some doubts, primarily because the deadline to submit abstracts is tomorrow, but I told her that I wanted to write about an experience that I had as an instructor at Manhattan College while I was living in NYC. While teaching the Web Design course in their Communication department, my final two semesters there I had students give up technology for a 48-hour period and then write about their experiences in the form of a reaction paper (they also had to read The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr).

While I’m not particularly inclined to go into a great deal of detail here as to what the results entailed, it’s probably not terribly surprising to learn that students had a hard time with the assignment. Most, surprisingly, did manage to complete it (though there were certainly those who admitted that they just couldn’t go two full days without their phones), but what I uncovered was that many students reported withdrawal-like symptoms from technology.  That, in a nutshell, is what the paper is/will be about.

So there you have it–my first attempt to publish. We shall see what happens next.